Fedora, the decades-old West Village institution most recently operated by restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, will not be reopening after the coronavirus pandemic. Stulman announced the closure in an email to customers on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the restaurant would reopen for a one-day pop-up on October 6.
Like countless other restaurants and bars across the city, Fedora closed its doors in mid-March due to the state-mandated shutdown of indoor dining in New York City and faced several obstacles that made reopening impossible. The competitive takeout and delivery scene — coupled with the “onerous fees” that third-party delivery apps can charge restaurants — made reopening a “losing proposition,” according to Stulman. Meanwhile, Fedora was unable to turn a profit from the city’s expanded outdoor dining program due to the restaurant’s narrow frontage.
On their own, it might have been possible to overcome those issues and hold for a few more months. When paired with the “lack of support” from city, state, and federal officials, however, Stulman writes that surviving the coronavirus pandemic would have been impossible. “The state has offered no meaningful anecdote for businesses that have been devastated by necessary public safety closures and limitations,” he writes in the closing announcement. “We’re now six months into the pandemic with no clear end in sight and no plan from our elected officials.”
Stulman received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which he writes “provided ten weeks of meaningful financial aid” but “only built a bridge halfway across the gorge.” More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, the funds provided through those loans have all but dried up.
Stulman assumed ownership of the beloved neighborhood bar more than a decade ago in July 2010. At the time, Fedora had temporarily closed for renovations and the restaurant’s longtime caretaker, the then-90-year-old chef Fedora Dorato, was looking to retire. “A decade ago we were handed the keys to a New York City landmark,” Stulman writes. “It’s been a century since the doors at 239 West Fourth first opened to the public, and more than fifty since Fedora served its first guest.”
Fedora is the second high-profile closing in the last month from Stulman, the hit-making restaurateur behind neighborhood spots Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fairfax, and the Jones. In August, Stulman announced that West Village gastropub Bar Sardine would permanently close at the end of the month due to failed lease negotiations with the building’s landlord.